The Guardian
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Group tasks religious leaders on hate speech, vote buying


Founder of Love A Muslim Ministry, Evangelist Isang Udo-Akagha (left); The General Overseer (GO) of Christian Central Chapel International (CCCI), Bishop Emmah Gospel Isong ; The Chief Missioner of Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Ahmad; Chief Imam of Al-Habibiyyah Islamic Society of Nigeria, Alhaji Fuad Adeyemi and the Executive Director, Strength in Diversity Development Centre (SDDC), Imam Shefiu Abdulkareem during a one-day preparatory conference on inter-religious and inter -denominational weekend of prayers for peaceful election in Nigeria

A non governmental organisation, Strength in Diversity Development Center (SDDC), has perfected arrangement for one-week of national prayer in order to ensure that peace reigns during the general elections.

According to SDDC Executive Director, Imam Shefiu Abdulkareem, the week long supplication will commence on Friday, February 8, 2019 with Muslims prayer while the Christian prayer holds on February 10 and joint rally of Christians and Muslims is slated for February 9.

The group has also mapped out strategies to reduce the spread of hate speech by educating the people to understand the aftermath of hate speech; religious leaders communicating with their audience to desist from the act of hate speech; in addition to educating all non-religious organisations on the effect of hate speech.

SDDC also bemoaned the act of vote buying, which it said has denied Nigerians good governance including provision of basic amenities. Speaking at a one-day conference organized for religious leaders by SDDC, the Sarkin Fulani of Lagos, Alhaji Muhammed Bambado, urged religious leaders to use their influence by calling on politicians within their domains to show commitment in curbing electoral violence.

“Beyond ensuring peace, it has also become imperative for leaders to enlighten their subject and followers and encourage them to ask questions and seek clarification before going out to vote,” he said.

The Lagos State House of Assembly Lagos Mainland candidate for All Progressives Congress (APC), Ajani Ibrahim Owolabi, urged politicians to desist from politics of violence and inciting hate speech during campaigns. The Chief Missioner of Ansar-ud-Deen Society of Nigeria, Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Ahmad, said fake news and hate speech is a worrisome trend that has bedeviled Nigeria, noting that fighting it has become a matter of urgency. ‎

Bishop Mathew Daniels said vote buying creates a big distortion and hindrance to the democratic idea of a free and fair election that ensures that the electorate elect the leaders they deem fit to rule them.

Dr. Noah Lawal-Jinadu said: “The roles of faith communities couldn’t be over-emphasised in preventing violence in election. “Religious leaders in local and national community are highly revered and respected because they understand the local context and have strong networks and access to various levels of power plus their regular presence in the communities. They therefore possess the power to raise awareness and influence attitudes, behaviours and practices of their members.”

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